Prosecutors charge teen with murder in death of 8-year-old

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Prosecutors Charge Teen as Adult in Death of 8-Year-Old

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) --

Prosecutors charged a 15-year-old boy with murder, kidnapping and sexual assault Wednesday in the death of an 8-year-old girl in an artists complex in a California beach town.

Police say Adrian Jerry Gonzalez lured Madyson Middleton into his family's apartment from a courtyard where she had been riding her scooter over the weekend.

Gonzalez remains in custody at the Santa Cruz County juvenile detention center, where he has been held since the girl's body was found in a recycling bin Monday evening.

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Madyson Middleton, missing girl in California
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Prosecutors charge teen with murder in death of 8-year-old
This undated photo provided by the Santa Cruz Police Department shows missing Madyson "Maddy" Middleton, from Santa Cruz, Calif. Madyson Middleton was last seen Sunday afternoon, July 26, 2015, riding a scooter outside the Tannery Arts Center in Santa Cruz, a beach town along the Northern California coast. The 4-foot-tall, a 50-pound child, has long brown hair, which was pulled to the side in a braid, and dark eyes. She was wearing a purple dress, black leggings, black flip-flops and a black helmet when she vanished. (Courtesy of Santa Cruz Police Department via AP)
Search volunteer Sean Milligan, left, tapes a missing girl flyer on the back of his wife Pepper Milligan, who then roller skated on the Santa Cruz boardwalk to alert people to the disappearance of Madyson Middleton, Monday, July 27, 2015, in Santa Cruz, Calif. Police and volunteers were searching Monday for a missing 8-year-old girl a day after she vanished from a California community center where she lives with her mother. Madyson Middleton was last seen Sunday afternoon riding a scooter outside the Tannery Arts Center in Santa Cruz, a beach town along the Northern California coast. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Santa Cruz County Sheriff search and rescue team members search for clues in the disappearance of 8-year-old Madyson Middleton, Monday, July 27, 2015, in Santa Cruz, Calif. Police and volunteers were searching Monday for a missing 8-year-old girl a day after she vanished from a California community center where she lives with her mother. Madyson Middleton was last seen Sunday afternoon riding a scooter outside the Tannery Arts Center in Santa Cruz, a beach town along the Northern California coast. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
A man walks by the parking area of the Tannery Arts Center where a security camera last captured the image of 8-year-old Madyson Middleton riding her scooter on Sunday afternoon, Monday, July 27, 2015, in Santa Cruz, Calif. Police and volunteers were searching for a missing 8-year-old girl a day after she vanished from a Northern California artist center where she lives with her mother. Madyson Middleton was last seen Sunday afternoon riding a scooter outside the Tannery Arts Center in Santa Cruz, a beach town along the Northern California coast. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
A Santa Cruz County Sheriff search and rescue team member searches for clues in the disappearance of 8-year-old Madyson Middleton Monday, July 27, 2015, in Santa Cruz, Calif. Police and volunteers were searching Monday for a missing 8-year-old girl a day after she vanished from a Northern California artist community center where she lives with her mother. Madyson Middleton was last seen Sunday afternoon riding a scooter outside the Tannery Arts Center in Santa Cruz, a beach town along the Northern California coast. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
People ride past a bike trail and wooded area beside the Tannery Arts Center where a security camera last captured the image of 8-year-old Madyson Middleton riding her scooter on Sunday afternoon is seen Monday, July 27, 2015, in Santa Cruz, Calif. Police and volunteers were searching Monday for a missing 8-year-old girl a day after she vanished from a Northern California artist center where she lives with her mother. Madyson Middleton was last seen Sunday afternoon riding a scooter outside the Tannery Arts Center in Santa Cruz, a beach town along the Northern California coast. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
The Tannery Arts Center is seen Monday, July 27, 2015, in Santa Cruz, Calif. Police and volunteers were searching Monday for a missing 8-year-old girl a day after she vanished from a Northern California artist center where she lives with her mother. Madyson Middleton was last seen Sunday afternoon riding a scooter outside the Tannery Arts Center in Santa Cruz, a beach town along the Northern California coast. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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"Unfortunately, the search for Maddy ended in the worst way possible," Santa Cruz District Attorney Jeffrey Rosell said.

He said Gonzalez will be charged as an adult and added that in his two decades in Santa Cruz, he's never seen a 15-year-old charged with murder.

The charges could send Gonzalez to prison for the rest of his life.

A call to the Santa Cruz County public defender's office seeking comment on the case wasn't immediately returned. Gonzalez could be assigned a lawyer at his arraignment Thursday.

Authorities haven't been able to establish a motive in the killing. "People do things for lots of reasons, sometimes we understand it, sometimes we don't," Rosell said.

Neighbors at the Tannery Arts Center where both the suspect and Madyson lived said they were stunned by the death. The center is a public-private nonprofit that includes 100 affordable loft apartments for artists and their families. About 250 people live in the complex, including about 50 children.

"It's a great community because it's a bit unusual," Geoffrey Nelson, a photographer and Tannery resident, said. "You share the joys of people, their children growing up. Their art shows, their recitals. But you also share the sorrows."

Nelson said he's known Gonzalez for several years and described him as shy, though they often chatted.

"He was a yo-yo-expert, so he was oftentimes showing you tricks," Nelson said.

Residents have been heartbroken to learn he's suspected in the death, he said.

"It wasn't somebody from the outside," Nelson said. "It was somebody we all knew. It was someone we all knew and liked."

Setorro Garcia, a Tannery resident who knew both the victim and suspect, said Gonzalez had been curious about the investigation.

"He kept asking, `Any updates?'" Garcia said.

A memorial has been set up in Madyson's honor, overflowing with dozens of bouquets, stuffed animals, balloons, candles and notes. A group of young girls, about Madyson's age, cried there Wednesday.

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Associated Press Reporters Kristin J. Bender and Julia Horowitz reported from San Francisco.

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